by | Jun 22, 2021

Camp Long Creek is home away from home

If the past year of turmoil taught us anything it’s that we all need to get outside more often. While most of us weren’t venturing off to beaches or lands far away during the pandemic, we all had one thing in common: rediscovering the great outdoors. Outdoor venues across the U.S. reported record attendance as people sought out peaceful places to spend time safely outside of the house and enjoy the beauty nature offers us all.

For those who like to camp, heading outside to sleep, eat and play was nothing new, but for many, the idea of pitching a tent and sleeping in a bag on the ground might not always seem like a great idea. That’s why places like Camp Long Creek at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale offer the option of “glamping.” The camping hybrid is a perfect blend of hotel and outdoor amenities for those who don’t want to try dozing off with a big rock as a pillow.

“Our mission is to help connect our guests to the great outdoors and this is a perfect place to do just that,” says Janet Glaser, senior public relations manager for the resort “We hope guests make lifelong memories and leave here with a newfound appreciation for the beauty of the Ozarks.”

Another plus many guests will find appealing is that Camp Long Creek welcomes pets.

Open since 2019, the camp, which is part of Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris’s long list of family-oriented destinations, currently offers 56 custom camping retreats which combine the rustic appeal of the great outdoors with the comforts of home. Guests can choose between glamping tents, shepherds huts, and one- or two-bedroom cabins that accomodate up to 6 people.

So, what are the differences? For one, if you’re glamping at Camp Long Creek, you’ll enjoy a king-size bed so comfortable you might feel as if you’re sleeping on a cloud. A private bathroom, smooth concrete-finished sinks and indoor rain-style showers are located at the back of your nearly 300-square-foot heavy canvas tent.

Other touches that make the glamping stay more homelike include an electric fireplace for ambiance as well as a retro-style standing fan should you wish to forgo the air conditioning option. A small refrigerator and coffee maker come standard, as does a couple of s’mores kits so you can toast a few marshmallows over the private firepit out on the stone floor back patio. And what’s more outdoorsy than a bath under the stars? This luxury is something else you can enjoy by the firepit in complete privacy as you view a star-filled night overhead. The firepit even comes with cut firewood, ready to light.

To make the camper kids outdoor experience great, kid-sized teepees can be added for a small fee. The tiny abode will be set up and ready for the tykes when you arrive.

Should you feel more social, unzip the front of the tent — the other end of the spacious bedroom — and sit on Adirondack chairs and watch the sun rise or set over the 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake as other campers enjoy cooking outdoors or taking walks with the kids down to the waterfront. Prefer to glamp in a more wooded forestlike setting? They’ve got that covered, too.

If you can’t live without it, there is a television — but you can also read a book or take a nap in the mottled light of the waning afternoon sun. However, there are so many great adventures to be had, the remote control might sit untouched.

If you’re not quite ready to glamp, give one of Camp Long Creek’s shepherds huts a stay. The 188-square-foot option includes a kitchen with the addition of microwave and electric cooktop stove. The tin-sided tiny cabins are decked out with modern decor inside but resemble vintage bungalows on the outside. One young camper thought they looked like old train cars.

Michael Sidoff and his wife stayed in one of the shepherds huts while his daughter and her family chose a two-bedroom cabin within walking distance.

“My 3-year-old grandson, Andrew, is all about vehicles and he overheard me say, ‘I wonder if we could drive this thing?’ ” Michael recalls. “He started looking around and told me he found the steering wheel: the shower faucet. Fortunately, he couldn’t quite reach it, so we stayed dry.”

Camp Long Creek served as the perfect vacation spot since the two families were meeting from opposite corners of the United States — Michael and his wife from Oregon while his daughter and her family came from Florida. “I already want to come back,” he says.

Another back-to-nature option for campers is to rent one of the camp cabins, which is perfect for small families. Like the shepherds huts, the 330-square-foot living quarters also come equipped with a kitchen with an electric cooktop stove and microwave.

The camping experience also includes daily housekeeping if you prefer, adding a hotel-like touch to your stay as well as free Wi-Fi — which you might not want to tell the family so they’ll spend more time enjoying the outdoors. There’s also a bocce court, playground, dog park and a heated infinity pool. There’s even a camp food truck housed in the shiniest restored Airstream you’ve ever seen — located right on the edge of the water at the marina.

If you need help learning how to start a fire or find you’ve locked yourself out of your camp home, no worries. The camp rangers can assist 24/7.

Prices for a stay at Camp Long Creek start at $300 per night. Vacationers are only minutes from Big Cedar Lodge with its numerous restaurants, natural history museum, spa, golf courses and more, making it a well-rounded option as a vacation destination or getaway.

Whether you are a camping novice or a tent-pitching pro, Camp Long Creek, served by White River Valley Electric, is as off-the-grid as you prefer. Pack the fishing poles to dip into the lake or rent a watercraft at the full-service marina. Need a fishing guide or want to learn how to water ski? They can help with that, too.

“I most enjoyed the peace Camp Long Creek offered,” says Michael, noting he also was impressed by the tram ride his family took through Dogwood Canyon, part of Big Cedar Lodge’s numerous options for guests. “The dedication to conservation by Mr. Morris and the care he took to develop the canyon in a way which both enhanced its natural beauty and made it accessible to all visitors is impressive.”

For more information or to book a stay at Camp Long Creek or Big Cedar Lodge, go to or call 800-225-6343. Camp Long Creek is located at 1368 Long Creek Road in Ridgedale.

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